Today, the Kansas City Star cited reliable sources in a report that Missouri had an offer on the table to join the SEC, and that the SEC was willing to wait on the final fate of the Big 12 conference. The boards of regents at Oklahoma and Texas have both voted to explore options, and of course all of this comes in the wake of Texas A&M’s formal secession from the Big 12 and acceptance into the SEC (barring court action blocking the move).
Later reports from USA Today’s Campus Corner had the SEC denying that it had made an offer to Missouri, but the sense is that the “denial” is plausible because, while the SEC probably has a wink-nudge offer to Mizzou, no way is Slive & Co. going to allow themselves to be portrayed as hunting on posted ground.
A&M looks to be all but a done deal and Mizzou might well be the dance partner, bringing the SEC to a 14-program conference with two, seven-member divisions.
The math of having an even number of conference participants makes scheduling a relatively easy thing to do. Scheduling equitably with 13 members is doable, but it wouldn’t be easy and it would leave some division members missing out on one game that they’d probably like to play.
There’s a good deal of chatter on how the two new conference members would fit into the league’s divisional system. Some folks think having two programs from west of the Mississippi all but guarantees that Auburn is pushed into the SEC East and both of the former Big 12 schools join the west. There’s also talk of rearranging some of the programs from the East and West to bring more balance. All of that is much too complicated and would likely end some storied conference rivalries.
A much easier solution (and therefore the one that will likely be the first option rejected) would be to simply rename the two divisions, keep the existing members in place and split the two new programs between the former East and West Divisions. Like this, for example:
|Former SEC West||Former SEC East|
In order to maintain the eight-game SEC schedule that requires each team to play each of its divisional opponents, one of the two rotating interdivisional games would have to be dropped, and each member school plays two opponents from the other division, rather than three (a recent schedule tweak following the addition of the 12th regular season game). One of the two interdivisional opponents is designated a divisional rival, while the other rotates on a home-away basis.
Alabama keeps its Iron Bowl rivalry with Auburn and neither team faces the prospect of having to play back-to-back should both be in the SEC Championship Game. Tennessee and Alabama also keep their storied rivalry, as do Auburn and Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, Georgia and Florida, and so on. Texas A&M and Missouri would almost certainly choose one another as their interdivisional rival, and you’re all set for an eight game schedule with 14 teams in the SEC.
Told ya that would be easy. Check, please?
Exit Question: Can Mike Slive avoid the disaster of division names that Jim Delany came up with?